Man found in refuse chute died from asphyxia, murder trial hears

None of the injuries victim suffered before entering the chute were fatal, trial hears

A 59-year-old homeless man died as a result of asphyxia and lack of oxygen after ending up head first in a refuse chute in an apartment complex in Cork, a murder trial has been told.

Assistant State Pathologist, Dr Margaret Bolster said that Liam Manley suffered no fatal injuries before his body entered a refuse chute head first at Garden City Apartments, North Main St, Cork.

Dr Bolster said that Mr Manley died as a result of a complex combination of mechanical asphyxia, pressure asphyxia and hypoxia, or lack of oxygen, due to being trapped in the waste chute.

She confirmed to prosecution counsel, Sean Gillane SC that her findings were consistent with Mr Manley entering the chute head first and ended up being trapped between bags of rubbish.

She said there would have been pressure on Mr Manley’s chest as a result of entering the refuse chute headfirst and a lack of oxygen in the confined space in the chute.

Dr Bolster was giving evidence on the sixth day of the trial of David O’Loughlin (28) who denies the murder of Mr Manley at Garden City Apartments, North Main St in Cork on May 12th 2013.

On Tuesday, before the jury of five men and seven women and Mr Justice Paul Carney at the Central Criminal Court sitting in Cork, Dr Bolster told of how she found Mr Manley in the chute.

She described Mr Manley as a small thin man whose body was shown to her by gardaí as he lay among bags of rubbish at the bottom of the rubbish chute in the apartment complex.

“There was a miraculous medal on a chord around his neck,” said Dr Bolster, adding that Mr Manley had one shoe on and one shoe off and was wearing beige pants and a fleece jacket.

She said decomposition had advanced at a faster rate than would be normal because of heat in the confined chute and the presence of a large amount of bacteria from surrounding rubbish.

Dr Bolster said that she found quite a significant injury to Mr Manley’s back where he had a number of fractured ribs while she also found injuries to both of Mr Manley’s hand

“They are most likely defensive – possibly sustained on entry to the chute,” she said, adding that while Mr Manley had suffered blows to the face none of them resulted in any trauma to the brain.

Defence counsel, Brendan Nix SC cross-examined gardaí on some of the questions and comments they made to Mr O’Loughlin when he was interviewed a week after Mr Manley was found.

Mr Nix drew attention to a comment by one garda that Mr O'Loughlin would find himself categorised with the Mulhall sisters in Dublin who became known as the Scissors Sisters.

Det Garda Padraig Harrington said that after getting nowhere in three "softly softly" interviews, a strategic decision was made that he and Det Garda Darragh Murray, would take a hard line.

He said this was why they began to describe the alleged murder as evil and the accused as the devil. The case continues.